Are you homeschooling multiple ages this year? If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed thinking about the stacks of books and hours of read-alouds in your future?
Take comfort, you’re not alone!
Take an inside look at how this mom of three juggles it all by planning for a bit of flexibility.
Today I spoke with busy homeschool mom, Crystal Sutherland, about homeschooling three children – with a range of ages and levels.
Crystal uses a relaxed and eclectic method of homeschooling for her little bunch, always considering what each child needs on an individual level.
Juggling curriculum for two children with another little one underfoot can seem daunting, but Crystal handles it all with grace.
In the following interview, Crystal shares her thoughts and advice on homeschooling multiple ages with a little planning and a lot of flexibility.
How do you plan or organize your homeschool days with kids of multiple ages?
To be honest, my main goal is just to make sure we get our math and language arts lessons done each day. I have a weekly planner that I follow loosely, but I’m not afraid to rearrange things as needed. We plan for 1 lesson per day in both math and language arts, and 2-3 lessons per week for science and social studies.
Do you have a specific planner that works for homeschooling multiple ages?
For the coming year I will be using the Hey Mama Planner from The Old Schoolhouse.
The Hey Mama Planner is a Christian-based homeschool planner with planning space for up to five students.
From the website: “This 188-page custom homeschool planner is full of calendars, lists, forms and charts – all to help you keep your family on schedule. Authored by TOS Publisher Gena Suarez, you will find several short, encouraging devotionals from Gena’s heart to yours, to help get you through your homeschool year. Lots of room to write. Spiral-bound so it lays flat on your table.”
Check out the full description and take a look inside the planner on The Old Schoolhouse or take a peek at how Crystal customizes it for her family.
Can you give us an idea of what a day-in-the-life of homeschooling multiple aged children looks like?
An average day in our homeschool starts kind of slowly. I’m not a morning person, so I usually need to get in my cup of coffee before we get started schooling.
Once I’ve fully woken up, I will get the children’s work for the day laid out. My oldest usually uses this time to work on some French lessons online.
The subjects that I want to cover daily are math and language arts, so I will pull out their lesson books and any accompanying materials (readers, handwriting notebooks, pencils, etc) and get them ready.
Both my 12 year old and 8 year old are able to get started independently on these subjects, and then I step in to help when things get tricky. For my 12 year old, he usually will ask for some help with math. We sit together and go over the lesson, and we walk through the questions until he’s caught on enough to work on his own again. For my 8 year old, she usually needs some extra direction with her language arts lessons.
This is usually the time where we will take a little break and the kids usually find a snack and maybe watch something on Netflix, or the 8 year old will often make a drawing or craft.
After a little break, we will work on Science and or Social Studies. These are two subjects that they both work on together. We use the same curriculum but their work is done at their own grade level. I’ll usually read the lesson and any books/readings that go along with it and then there is often a project or experiment that the kids work on at their grade levels.
Using one curriculum for both kids in a couple of subjects really helps to cut down on all the back and forth work I’d have to do if they each had their own curriculum. Besides, it’s more fun to do projects and experiments together.
If we are on top of our game, we can usually get our main subjects done before lunch, and then the kids are free to pursue their other interests, or they might just relax and play for the rest of the day. My 8 year old has a passion for artsy things, so I’ll often find her drawing, painting or crafting something out of paper or toilet paper rolls! My 12 year old, like most kids his ages, prefers gaming, he even has his own YouTube channel that he his trying to grow while learning more about how to make and edit his videos.
We are pretty relaxed in our homeschooling, and if things come up we aren’t afraid to move things around or even skip things when needed. We have been know to take trips to the local wildlife park or science center instead of doing lessons for the day. Sometimes we need to have a “fun day” here and there.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to share with homeschoolers working with multiple aged children?
My advice would be to remember that you can pick and choose different curriculum and styles for your homeschool. Your homeschool doesn’t have to look the same as anyone else’s. You can choose different styles for each child, or for different subjects, just as long as it’s working for *YOU and YOUR FAMILY*.
And if you find that something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it up and try something different. It’s okay for your homeschool to be a work-in-progress.
Find more of Crystal’s advice in her beginners guide:
Find out more…
Read more about Crystal’s approach to homeschooling and motherhood on her website, Our Little Bunch.
Are you a new homeschooler? Find answers, advice, and support here.